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Discrimination – some new figures to analyse July 15, 2019

Posted by Tomboktu in Equality, LGBT, Travellers.
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Discrimination is alive and kicking in Ireland. Two weeks ago, the Central Statistics Office published the results of a survey it conducted between January and March this year (web version here, 22-page PDF here). People were asked if they had experienced discrimination in the previous two years. Nearly a fifth of those surveyed said they had.

There is lots in the report to chew on, but I will look at two topics.

(more…)

Tradition, Travellers and Schools November 19, 2016

Posted by Tomboktu in Choice, Inequality, Travellers.
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The ‘baptism barrier’ in Irish schools attracted plenty of media attention this week because the Education (Admission to Schools) Bill was debated in the Dáil. Some, but less, attention was given to the ‘Traveller barrier’. From my quick scan this morning of the published transcripts of the debate, the issue of Travellers and access to schools seems to have been spoken about in a substantive way by only two TDs (some others referred to Travellers in a list of discriminatory grounds that are included in the equality legislation).

Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick: It is a tradition in this country that children generally attend the same school as their parents. For us to put a barrier in that regard is wrong and it is not fair to either the children, their parents or the schools.

I welcome the Minister’s statement that he is open to discussions on this matter. I note that he stated a maximum limit of 25% of places could be available for the children of past pupils. However, I foresee problems with such an approach. For example, what happens if children of past pupils apply for, let us say 35% of the places available? In such a case we would be back to a situation whereby a number of applicants would be treated unfairly. There is no easy solution to the issue. I do not believe we can solve it by simply stating that 25% of places should be reserved for the children of past pupils. My view is that the children of past pupils should always be given the option to attend the school their parents attended. As I already stated, that is the tradition in Ireland and one I would like to see retained. I am not favour of tinkering with long-held traditions that have worked successfully in the past and continue to work successfully now and will into the future. I welcome and acknowledge the Minister’s statement that he will listen to all views on this matter when the Bill is on Committee Stage.

Deputy Ruth Coppinger: I take issue with the Minister retaining the past pupil rule. In effect this is a continuation of the old boys and old girls network. People who end up in university together studying law, medicine and other prestige courses tend to have gone to the same schools. It is simply a continuation of that culture. This rule was used recently to discriminate against a Traveller getting in to a school. The school circumvented the equality legislation by arguing that the child’s father had not attended the school. The Minister must explain why he has not removed this rule. It will be used as a further ground to keep people out. These people are already marginalised and we have had enough marginalisation of the Traveller community in this country. The rule affects immigrants and people who have come to this country in a similar way.

I wonder if Deputy Fitzpatrick and the schools that are lobbying for the retention of ‘tradition’ will be asked when the Committee stage is held if that includes the ‘tradition’ of excluding Travellers from certain schools.

Whose hypocricy? May 17, 2016

Posted by Tomboktu in Council of Europe, Ethics, Human Rights, Inequality, Travellers, Uncategorized.
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This morning’s editorial in the Examiner opines on yesterday’s judgement in the case taken by the Irish Traveller Movement about Traveller accommodation. The headline announces “Relationship made toxic by hypocrisy – Travellers in society“, and you would be forgiven for thinking that the hypocrisy of the State would be questioned in it. But no.

Just yesterday, the European Committee of Social Rights found that local authorities do not provide enough accommodation for Travellers and that many halting sites are in a poor condition. Many halting sites are in a pitiful, unacceptable condition but that raises a question — how did those sites become so dilapidated? What condition were they in when they were handed over to the residents?

Clearly, the writer did not check the documents on the case. Here are extracts from the evidence that the Irish Traveller Movement presented in its complaint (34-page PDF here. The quotation is from pages 30 and 31, and I have removed the paragraph numbers and the footnote references.)

the land used for sites is often not entirely suitable for housing: ‘near industrial estates (Cork and Kilkenny); near a factory (Wexford); near a used or disused dump (Cork North and Clare); by a river (Carlow and Waterford); with sewage and water contamination problems nearby (Roscommon); with unsafe gas levels (Limerick); near a dual carriageway (Cork North) or motorway (Cork South).’ These locations result in rat infestation, flooding and problems with water sanitation. ‘There is at least one death directly related to the dangerous quality of the site: the death of a child, from a rock fall on the site located beside a cliff. That site has been officially condemned but not yet closed and an extended family is still in residence there

ITM reports a worrying trend very recent years in relation to an increase in the installation of CCTV cameras on halting sites. There have been a number of reports of CCTV cameras being installed recording children as they play and looking into caravans, there is concern in relation to child protection issues resulting from the collection of the images of children and unwarranted interference with private and family life.

The threat of fire, aggravated by overcrowding and the presence of a locked height barrier at many of the sites to which families do not have a key, is also notable. While limited numbers of local authorities provide keys to the height barrier to residents a significant proportion do not: ‘While a number of returned surveys stated specifically that in instances where families do not have a copy of the key to the barrier, emergency services had access to a master key. However, another survey said the barrier had been broken by emergency services to gain access, raising questions about the availability of a master key.’

No mention of any of these “not entirely suitable” conditions by the Examiner.

A sequence of State decisions January 23, 2016

Posted by Tomboktu in Housing, Human Rights, Inequality, Ireland, Justice, Travellers.
2 comments

A pal of mine posted this elsewhere. I think it deserves a wider readership

Spoke with a woman today whose home environment was checked for health and safety concerns.
Her home was taken from her last week because of dangers in the original environment, making her homeless.
Then her social welfare payment was stopped due to no longer been at the registered address.
Then a civil servant suggested she put her child into the fostering system so she could get accommodation.
Then the local services responsible for taking her home locked the doors so she couldn’t make a rehoming appointment.

I mean historically the communities have had issues – but this is really just fucked up.

As a gay man no one expects me to live my life with a woman.
We understand that truth.
We understand that sense of identity.
As a Traveller however there is the expectation to live within the settled structured.
That connection of identity and the need is overridden and cast aside due to expectation.

Many people might not realise it is a privilege to live within their own culturally appropriate structure, as they’ve never had that option denied to them, but really, in this day and age we really could be so much more kind to one another.

70 people made homeless.
70.

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